“Love Jihad” Was No Farce
By Mukul Dube
09 February, 2010
The Central Government squarely blamed the media, and only the media, for publicising the hoax that had an obvious malign intention. The “Love Jihad” affair had all the marks of a farce: but we will be foolish to brush it aside with laughter
In a letter written to several newspapers on 27 October 2009, but not to my knowledge published except in places on the Internet, I had asked questions to which I now have the answers. Here are the questions:
“[Do] we have any assurance that, if this whole 'Love Jihad' thing should turn out to be an engineered fraud, punishment will be meted out to those who manufactured it and to those who will have wasted the resources of the Indian State in fighting it?
“Will there be an official repudiation of statements which have been made about the 'national ramifications' of what is not so far proven not to be a load of bull? What will be done to those judges who ordered adult women to stay with their parents, an action which must be called unauthorised house arrest and the taking away of fundamental rights?”
The task of describing the start of the alarmist fiction of “Love Jihad” is best left to these three from among the numerous sites which came up when I searched the Internet for the phrase:
On www.hindujagruti.org, on 27 February 2009 (accessed 29 January 2010, errors preserved), the pseudonymous Falgun Shuddha Dwitiya wrote:
“Trapping naive Non Muslim girls (Read as Hindu girls) in the web of love inorder to convert to Islam is the modus operandi of the said organisation. Already more than 4000 girls have been converted to Islam by this Jihadi Romeos.
“As per the instructions to recruits of this organisation, they have to love a Hindu girl within the time frame of 2 weeks and brainwash them to get converted and marry within 6 months. Special instructions to breed atleast 4 kids have also been given. If the target won't get trapped within first 2 weeks, they are instructed to leave them and move on to another girl.”
“Indian Realist” wrote, on 1 March 2009, on http://indianrealist.wordpress.com (accessed 29 January 2010, errors preserved):
“The 'Love Jihad' organisation provides their members with mobile phones, motor cycles, good clothing, etc. for more effective allurment of girls. The organisation has a well defined setup with a 'Zonal Chairman' responsible for coordinating activities in a particular district.”
On http://islamicterrorism.wordpress.com, “jagoindia” wrote on 10 March 2009 (accessed 9 February 2010, errors preserved):
“Few days back a secular Malayalam Daily, Kerala Kaumudi exposed shocking revelations about a jihadi organisation named ‘Love Jihad' which has been conveniently ignored by rest of the media.”
The first and third sites speak, without evidence, of 4,000 “successes” in the space of six months in Kerala alone. The fact that these and many other web sites reproduce the same words, and the same errors of grammar and spelling, tells us that one person or group of persons is orchestrating what must be called a campaign: or at least that many publicists are drawing upon a single source. Included are web sites with revealing names like hindujagruti, jihadwatch, islamicterrorism and sanghparivar, as well as others whose names do not suggest that they are anything but objective and impartial.
The rumour or plant ' for that is what it appears to have been ' had an immediate effect in Kerala.
On http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com , Ananthakrishnan G, on 13 October 2009 (accessed 9 February 2010), wrote:
"'Love Jihad', a religious conversion racket which lures gullible girls by feigning love, has brought rivals Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Christian groups in Kerala together." [Note the absence of the word "alleged".]
On http://in.christiantoday.com, on 13 October 2009 (accessed 9 February 2010, errors preserved), Babu Thomas wrote:
"After evidences that an Islamic religious conversion racket termed ?Love Jihad? lured innocent girls in Kerala, the [Catholic] Church has issued warnings urging parents and students to be cautious as well as conscientious on such campaigns." [Note the absence of the word "alleged" and the presence of the word "evidences".]
The government of Karnataka also took note of the rumour; and it went ahead to act. On 22 October 2009, a report on http://www.deccanherald.com (accessed 9 February 2010) said:
"The Karnataka government Thursday said 'Love Jihad', an alleged attempt by some Muslim men to lure non-Muslim girls with promises of marriage and get them converted to Islam, appeared to be a serious issue and it would take steps to counter it.
"A meeting of senior police officials will be held either Friday or Saturday to decide ways to tackle the attempts, Home Minister V.S. Acharya told reporters after a cabinet meeting."
On 27 October 2009, a report on http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com (accessed 9 February 2010) said:
"In a significant move, the Karnataka government on Monday ordered a CID probe into love jihad, which refers to the incidence of young non-Muslim girls allegedly being lured into marriage and then converted to Islam. Karnataka's decision follows a direction from the state high court for a thorough probe into the issue."
A little over a fortnight later, there was an answer. On 15 November 2009, the staff reporter of http://www.twocircles.net (accessed 9 February 2010) wrote:
"The Karnataka CID informed the state High Court on Friday that there was no evidence for the functioning of the ?Love Jihad? in the state."
At the same place we find this:
"The Kerala DGP Jacob Punnoose reportedly submitted his report on November 11 stating that such a movement was not functioning in the state."
There was further wrapping up. On http://kafila.org, J. Devika, on 10 December 2009 (accessed 29 January 2010), wrote:
“The Central Government informed the Kerala High Court early this month that there was no such thing and that the term ‘love jihad' was being used by the media.”
On http://www.twocircles.net, on 2 December 2009 (accessed 9 February 2010) the staff correspondent wrote”:
“There is no evidence for the functioning of ‘love jihad' in Kerala, informed the central Home Ministry in the Kerala High Court. The centre stated its view in the affidavit filed on the matter by Home Secretary GK Pillai....
“The affidavit reportedly says that the central government has not got any information on the functioning of such an organization. There was no organized religious conversion in the state.... The term was ... used by the media and rare incidents of love are portrayed in this way.”
We should note that the two High Courts (and apparently a lower court in Karnataka) did not act on their own: they will have been obliged to enquire into allegations made before them. We should note also that while the Karnataka government was asked by the state's High Court to conduct a probe, it had no reason to say that "[Love Jihad] appeared to be a serious issue", etc. There is no evidence that the Kerala government issued nonsensical statements of this order or took any precipitate action.
India is a land of rumours. Once started, a rumour spreads faster than a fire in a field of wheat ready for the harvest. Not so long ago there was the extraordinary business of idols of Ganesh being said to be drinking milk. Thousands of people across the land tossed their common sense into the waste bin and went to temples carrying milk for the deity whose hunger defied the laws of the natural world.
There can be little doubt that then, as again in the “Love Jihad” affair, a well oiled machine was at work: better organised than the carefully concocted imaginary one to which the running of “Love Jihad” was attributed. We might describe the functioning of the set-up as crazed but not crazy. The historian Tanika Sarkar would call it breathless. Those who spread these rumours ' or perhaps we should speak of calculated misinformation ' exploit breathlessness and thrive on it. Their victims, common people, must blindly swallow them as they are given no time to think.
These things have happened, on a smaller scale, time and again. They do much damage before someone wakes up and exposes them: but nothing is done to prevent their recurrence, which logically would involve making examples of the perpetrators.
Will all those young Muslim men ever feel secure again who have been branded as cynical seducers? Will they be able to give expression to such love as they may feel for young women, now that they have been declared to be not naturally romantic young men but operatives of a criminal outfit? There can be no better instance of purely human feelings being reduced to a calculated manoeuvre of deception.
We all know who are the intellectual and moral ruffians who say, and who want to prove, that Muslims in India are systematically working towards numerical dominance. Why are these liars not tried and punished in the light of those sections of the Indian Penal Code which have to do with public tranquillity (chap. VII), religion (chap. XV) and criminal intimidation (chap. XXII)? But they are left alone and, like the subterranean monsters which they themselves create in their crazed minds, are free to rear their heads again.
The media are clearly to blame here, for the diagnosis (consisting of official denials) received little publicity although the fictional ailment had been forcefully and repeatedly, and colourfully, shoved down the throats of viewers and readers. In these circumstances, talk of self-regulation can be seen to be humbug.
The role of the “Kerala Kaumudi” newspaper in starting the whole thing has been noted. So far as I know, the paper has not denied it. What was worse, several media outfits hopped on to the band-wagon. As they had nothing else to sell, they opted to dish out this bilge. They and their consumers were equally uncritical.
The Central Government squarely blamed the media, and only the media, for publicising the hoax that had an obvious malign intention. The goal was achieved, the lives of many young Muslim men were scarred, and Muslims as a whole were further established to be demoniacal.
Even after credible authorities have said that “Love Jihad” was rubbish, the web sites of Hindutva continue to carry what they began with. The media have at most reproduced the official statements of denial but have made no effort to give publicity to the baneful effects of the fraud. Millions of people are thus left thinking that India's Muslims are indeed playing out a conspiracy.
Sensation sells, not statements that ogres and fairies do not exist. The media, equally through what they disseminate and through what they keep silent about, have shown themselves once again to be on the side of the most regressive forces in India. Deliberately or by default, they have acted as the hand-maidens of Hindutva and the Sangh Parivar.
The “Love Jihad” affair had all the marks of a farce: but we will be foolish to brush it aside with laughter, as there is no denying that it points to a fundamentally evil streak in the minds of some. Only the people can bring these criminals into line, and only the people can ensure that the media behave themselves ' but, in this time of unrestricted and mindless consumption, the people are only too hungry for the tripe that is placed before them by media houses hungry for material gain and unconcerned with truth and social responsibility.